Helping Your Kids Deal with Drug Testing Fears – Talk to Them about It!
Drug testing in schools is one way of preventing the use of illicit drugs. Unlike mandatory testing made for employees, this one is made at random. At some points, there are controversies linked behind the imposition of drug tests in students. Add to that the fact that there are common drug testing fears that one student shares with those of others.
Some could not avoid but ask: “What is a drug test for?” Lawmakers say that this is the only way to put a stop to the illicit drug problem in society. In fact, the Office of National Drug Control Policy in the United States have seen the effectiveness of random drug testing in that it helped deter drug use especially in adolescents. In 2003, results of random drug testing made in 13-year old or 8th grade US students showed that cigarette smoking reduced from 35.9% to 24.4% while cannabis use declined from 18.5% to 11.8%. Alcohol dependence statistics also had a good result from a record high of 39.9% to 30%. These reductions can be good indicators but what do kids actually feel about it?
Drug testing fears in students
While the drug test is conducted at random, a lot of students fear of being chosen for the test. This is not because they are dependent on illicit drugs. The most common reasons for their fears include:
• Labeling effect. Simply put, this is the fear of being tagged as drug users even if they are not.
• Invasion of privacy. Kids are afraid of being questioned about their private lives.
• Harassment. Students think that they will be harassed by authority just to admit being drug dependent even if they are not.
• Biased results. Since some schools conduct drug testing to a particular group of individuals – for instance the student council members or those involved in sporting activities – some students feel that the law is biased. If students are allowed to assert their rights and question authorities, they would say: “How can you be so sure that only those engaged in sports activities are more inclined to using drugs?”
How can you help your kids overcome these drug testing fears?
As parents you have a role to play. You have to guide your kids in getting rid of all these inhibitions. Remember that before random drug testing was implemented, there were guidelines set by the federal government as well as by the schools themselves. The best way is for you to talk to them about the following:
1. Drug testing is made with your consent. As parents, you should make them understand that your kids are not forced to undertake the exam without your consent.
2. It’s a beneficial school policy. Give them detailed information on why the school has to do it. Do not just stop by saying “It’s a school policy! You must go through it”. Tell them “This test helps and is relevant to society!” Perhaps, it will help if you relay stories about drug dependence as you explain this school policy.
3. It’s a way of helping save lives of others. Let them realize how many students have been caught using illicit drugs and how these students’ lives have been adversely affected. Tell them that drug testing is one way of putting a stop to this problem.
4. It’s not about invading one’s privacy. Inform them that although the labeling effect is inevitable at first, it will be forgotten later on.
5. Tell them that the tests are conducted in adults too. Let them know that drug testing is being conducted not only in schools but in work areas as well.
It may be quite hard to push your child to say yes to a drug test. But with proper explanation and guidance, you will certainly help them overcome their drug testing fears.